THE POWER OF THE CROSS
(I actually wrote this in my journal this past summer, but I’m sharing it now as a praise. God answers prayer, and we know from His Word that He always gives us what we ask when we ask for something that is in His will such as to know Him more intimately, and to have a deeper understanding of His love for us. I thank God for hearing me and for being faithful to answer. His answers have been life changing and I can’t wait to hear what He has to say next.)
I sat down this morning to do my Bible study, but first I wanted to read a handout from the Exchanged Life program called, The Key To The Victorious Christian Life by Mike Quarles. I didn’t pray first as I normally would before starting my reading. I just ran on into the garden ahead of my Heavenly Father, anxious to read what Mr. Quarles had to say. I usually start with prayer, but this wasn’t the Bible so I figured I could handle it all by myself. I hadn’t yet invited the Lord to come with me, to guide me into a better understanding of what He would have me to learn. I just ran ahead on my own, but my Father is so patient and full of lovingkindness. He just came to find me in the garden and faithfully touched my heart and I was moved to tears because of His loving presence.
As I’ve mentioned before, for the last several years my fervent prayer has been that the Lord would give me a deeper understanding of Christ’s death on the cross and how it relates to me specifically. Slowly, God is bringing me little by little into a mind-altering, life-changing understanding that Christ’s death was for me, personally, just as it is for each person that accepts Him. I’ve struggled for a long time over my self-centeredness, my inconsistency when it comes to following Christ in thought, word and deed, and my inability to “die to self”. I ask myself why I can’t seem to maintain Christ-centeredness. I recognize and confess my self-centeredness. I repeatedly pray for the power to surrender my own will and to yeild always to the Holy Spirit, but It’s never very long before I impatiently take back the controls of my life.
Today, in the article by Quarles, I read that to think that I can “die to self” is not only unbiblical but a cruel deception, because the emphasis is on what I must do (again, self-centered). God has provided the way of deliverance, freedom and victory. My death has already been accomplished – it’s a biblical fact.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
The key to my struggle may be that I don’t really know this in my heart.
Quarles uses the term co-crucifixion. Our death with Christ frees us from sin’s power over our life. Sin has been the controlling force in humankind since Adam chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden because all humankind comes from his bloodline. Jesus’ death is God’s solution, the blood sacrifice required to restore mankind, to pay the penalty for sin. Okay, I’ve heard and read this before. (new life, freed from sin, alive to God, etc.) Then why do I continue to live as one who is not free? It’s because I’ve never really known and believed to my very core that the (my) old self is dead. Fini’! Kaput! It seems I’ve misunderstood this key concept because I’ve continued to act as if my old self is still alive and well although perhaps pushed aside at times. I’ve been deceived into thinking that I’m fighting a battle to keep my old self stuffed down to allow my new self to be in control, but this too is misguided and inaccurate. God’s provision for me was not a partial solution to my sin, nor was it faulty in any way. It’s perfect and complete. My old self was crucified with Christ, dead and gone. It’s no longer there, and sin has no power over me.
We are “co-crucified” as Quarles says. We died to sin, to the law and to the world. We no longer have to look to the world to get our needs met or to find our identity. We died to the law. The law will be fullfilled, not as we seek to obey it but as we allow Christ to live His life in us. (Romans 8:4)
But, if I’ve died to sin (Romans 6:2), then why don’t I live a life where my every thought and action glorifies God? Quite the contrary, sometimes I’m shocked that I can spend time alone with the Lord first thing in the morning and no more have I shut the door behind me than I can become totally self-absorbed once again. Sometimes I think I’m two people. It reminds me of when James says in James 1:23,24, “like a man who looks at his natural face in the mirror, and once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was”. Quarles quotes John Murray who says we are not two people, an old man and a new man, neither are we the same person plugged into Christ. We are new creations. He points out that until we KNOW, really know that our old self has been crucified and until we have appropriated our death with Christ, to attempt to reckon, yeild and obey is futile.
God has given me everything I need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) The problem is my lack of faith (unbelief). The Israelites did not enter into God’s rest because of their unbelief. (Heb 3:19) Lord, help my unbelief!
Quarles also says we cannot obey God until we realize the old self is dead and the imperatives in Scripture are directed to the new self- that is, Christ in us.
Father God, help me to take You at Your Word that I have died to sin, my old self has been crucified with Christ, and I am freed from sin whether I know it or not. Help me Father to trust, believe, and receive that this truth is done, already accomplished, and finished. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
My faithful, loving Father is opening my eyes to this new way of seeing His truth. I’m overwhelmed by His lovingkindness and faithfulness. I’m beginning to see that I am in Christ and He is in God, therefore I am in God seated in the Heavenly realm. My new self is in God. It is done. I am perfect and perfectly free in Christ, and because I am free, I can choose to walk on earth as it is in the Heavenly realm where I sit at the right hand of God in Christ. He’s helping me to understand what it means to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. By the power of the Holy Spirit in my new self, I’m free to choose to surrender to His will. He will work it out in me to be able to accept my freedom. Quarles quotes Watchman Nee who clarifies the distinction:
“It is for this reason that we can live a life of holiness, for it is not our old life that has been changed, but the life of God that has been imparted to us.”
I think I’ve been like a dog who has lived a long time within the confines of an invisible, electric fence. Even though it’s been turned off and he would be free to go beyond the boundary, he remains captive because of his false belief.
Father, thank You for this mind boggling gift, the sacrifice of Your Son for my freedom. Help me to see that I am free indeed. Englarge my territory and let Christ live through me for Your glory. Thank you for opening my eyes to this life altering truth. Keep me from doing harm to Your name. In Jesus’ precious and powerful name, Amen and amen.